|Governance from Below|
Governance from Below
I want to focus on just one point: Give the reins of governance to the hands of people. And give it effectively.
People themselves are the reason, the legitimating source and the ultimate stakeholders in governance.
When I say people, I don’t mean just the more vocal, the more powerful, the upper middle class and the like, but also, and especially, the poor, the disadvantaged, the powerless, the people at the base. Mahatma Gandhi would say the well being of the least is the ultimate test of every thing. Ultimate test then even of good governance.
We have systems of governance today, where one needs to be powerful if one’s grievances are to be addressed.
Ensure that people at the base remain powerful. People will ensure that governance remains good.
If people are powerful they won’t need that much of awareness seminars to get sensitized and make an adequate response. It is in everybody not to tolerate being taken for a ride, and to ensure one’s place, dignity and future.
But if people feel helpless and powerless, no other measure would ensure adequately good governance on a sustained basis. The powerlessness of the people is the ground on which a lot of unfairness or corruption breeds.
Power is the ability to have an effective say. To have an effective say is really to rule. And people are to rule.
But people cannot have their say unless they have effective and viable ‘talking forums.’ Talking forums, when translated according to Latin root, parlare, means “Parliaments”
Until “parliaments” come to where people are, until they are accessible to people and viable to be handled by them, people cannot have power, people cannot really rule.
Democracy” is not rule by people enough if it keeps the talking-forums away from people; if it does not provide scope to have their say, control, or monitoring.
Democracy now does not allow people to have their say. All it allows is a ‘token’ voice that does not give much of content to their choice.
Empowering people is not just giving people a little more education, a little more skills, a little more awareness etc. Powerlessness is more of a structural problem, a systemic problem of even”democratic” nations.
People must have their say effectively and that not once in five years or so, but on an ongoing basis.
Building structures or mechanisms for people’s ongoing and effective voice in governance is not difficult.
We can start organizing neighbourhood parliaments or neighbourhood level forums for people’s participation in governance. These forums could be federated at various levels, even up to the world level.
When federating and organizing this way we have to keep in mind certain principles: